New Year 2013, celebrating with 24 travel memories and pictures

It is that time, the one to look back and try to make a brief sum of the experiences of the year past. It does not feel like it but today is precisely one year I left for travelling around the world.

Considering to spend an hour reminiscing one single event, today I will comply a 24 memories’ list for this first day of the year. This is a random list, absolutely incomplete, but something to look at, at least for me for years to come.

During this year of travelling I did:

1)   Visit 13 States and 4 Continents

2)   Get my first freelancer job as photographer

3)   Meet countless amount of wonderful people

074)   Attend 2 Gay Pride Parades

                      5)   Watch a Marathon passing12


6)   Sleep a total of 12 days without accommodation

  7)   Work in a farm

8)   Work in a zooBinturong

Hornbill29)   Photoshoot my first calendar (Wild Life)

                      10)  Risk arrest and deportation twice                                        (one of which an ongoing issue)

11)  get Padi Open Water and SSI Advance OW licenses

                                                              12)  Drive a tuktuk

13)  See a typhoon and a IMG_20120706_090108house on fire

14)  Pet, feed and fall in love with a tiger 121111_Kampot_0540

15)  Bathed in a body of water in nearly every LakeBathplace I visited

16)  Get sick 4 times

1717)  Attend 2 ceremonies of Royal relevance

18)  Spend a grand total of 12800€

IMG_20120624_220324         19)  Behave shamelessly one time too many and still counting

20)  See the sunrise birth and death in: a desert, a tropical island, Angkor Wat,Angkor2 Tokyo, a lake at 9000ft, at -28ºC in the Finnish countryside and many more other places

The day the cubs were born He was feeling a bit left alone

21) See 5 calves and 2 lion cubs being born

22)  Have a smoothy with an old school real Super Model and her family

23)  Cook deep fried courgette’s flowers, a speciality from Tuscany, in Japan

24)  Went out at sea for a traditional fishing night in Cambodia120711_Fishermans_0386

Washington DC the memorial city

My time in Washington DC has been one of the best ever, I was visiting a very good friend of mine and I found great new friends and people. At first my impression of the city has been one of a huge memorial site. All the buildings, stations, statues, parks and fountains appear to be a memorial to some war or some military corps and so on. The fact that the very same day I went out to discover the city was Memorial Parade day enhanced the sense of celebratory architecture of the city.

Summer in Washington DC is hot, so plan to visit Washington DC accordingly if you don’t want to experience a subtropical temperature with humid sticky weather at times drizzly yet still hot. I have never sweat like that.

Back to the parade, we waited the passage of the parade about middle way and it was quite a long wait, I mean between two carriages or music bands there were long period of nothingness that took away the parade momentum in my opinion. Yet, the show was there, the army troops in uniform marching orderly, the bands with colours, standards and ensigns. I could not but sympathize  with how hot they surely felt and admire their determination.

My favourite part was the historical divisions but I caught only a couple of those. However, one interesting thing was to observe how Americans manage to get the show bizz even in a Memorial parade. The old generals waving sitting on the bumper of vintage looking cars, the “sponsored” heroes usually surrounded by flashy and fringy clouds of metallic red white and blue and the hovering eagles, the music stars, yes you read me well the American Idol winners or something like that were there too, I think they were suppose to be somehow related to the army in some way but I found them to be quite out of contest and I think they felt it too.

All in all it has been a nice experience but I would not plan a visit to Washington just for the parade that we left before the end because of the heat and scorching sun. I discovered instead a plethora of museums, galleries and artistic events that constellate the city scene and this is a very valid reason for visiting DC. The Smithsonian institutes even presented me with the chance to see a full exhibition on Japanese prints of mount Fuji by Hokusai among which shine one of my favourite art pieces ever: The Wave. It is truly mesmerizing in its simplicity.

I strongly suggest to include Washington DC in your itinerary if you are a museum traveller, from painting to ancient pottery, sculpture gardens and portraits passing by space related technology and the biggest collection of aircrafts I never thought possible to find in a single building, Washington surely has something for you.

I am looking forward to hear your stories and views about Washington DC.


Drag Queens are taking over the sport field


Following leads to get kick started on one of my project I stumble upon the Drag Kick ball match in Washington DC as part of the gay pride week events. SDB and I both thought that such an event ought to be interesting and fun, I mean  how often do you see Drag Queens doing sport? To be fair I didn’t even know what kick ball was until I arrived at the field. For who is wondering, kick ball from what I gathered is a sort of baseball played with a football and no bats. The event was a hit with the local judging from the amount of public in and out the fences. A Drag Queen team is great fun to watch, the warming up looks like a cabaret show with jazz hands and all the trimmings. It is all about swaying and stretching as if you do it while dancing in a disco club with a kaleidoscopic motion of glitter, feathers and unconventional sporty outfits. One of the ladies even went as far as wearing high heels prompting the organizer to state that any liability for injuries were totally up to the players. The game was quite fast paced, the weather unpredictable as usual in Washington went from sunny to drizzly but the overall show was quite amusing. On base two the lady was bitch slapping the air dancing her way through the game, whereas on the next base the queen was giving attitude in retribution. The most glamorous of the pitchers won her round and headed back to the team corner swagging in a way worthy of Victoria Beckham. The running between bases was at time hilarious with uncoordinated and choreographed  chase enriched by screeching reminiscent of mid-century ladies playing sport for the first time in their life. The public was cheering and laughing and few lucky ones won gym subscription and a ticket to the Madonna concert; the guy who won it didn’t get very popular by admitting publicly that he was not a big fun of Madge.

The only thing that let me down a bit was the lack of commenting during the match, I would have loved to hear some real dry Drag Queenish humour commenting the event.

All in all it was a great afternoon and fully worth it the low price of the ticket. I could not but think at last year when I did attend the Bear Race in Helsinki in which bearded Drag Queens race each other in various running styles. I am adding some exclusive pictures never seen before just for you. If you will ever have the chance to attend a Drag Queen sport event I cannot but suggest you to go because even if you don’t like to watch sport like me, you are going to be in for an amusing treat.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot, the Drag Queen team was the winner of the match, go DQs go and next year please bring it on with a Cheer-Queen-leader group!


Indeed I did set sails (well wings to be precise) and started the “on the road” part of my round the world trip. First stop USA. These first days have been overwhelming and I had to adjust to this new life style so I did not have much time to think at posting. But I am back on track and now I know a bit better how to manage my schedule. So here some highlights from my first couple of weeks in the US of America.

The Flight

Getting on the flight I felt full of expectations and dreamed plans were running wild into my head. I could not yet fully grasp the reality of the situation. In the days before my leaving I got so tired that I actually felt asleep for the most part of the flight but not before getting a glimpse of the amazing farewell that Europe organized for me. The afternoon was dying and it did it in a glorious poem of golden rivers and lakes in between the clouds. I was quite surprise of my falling asleep as I am usually not that good at that particular task but I arrived far more rested and ready to rock than ever before in a long haul flight. So I strongly recommend to get so tired in advance of a departure to be knocked out during the flight.

NY Garment District, Manhattan

I spent my first three nights in NY, it rained a lot. When I left from Italy I booked only my first night in a hostel thinking of finding something once on location. I ended up spending a third of my time finding a new place where to sleep. Beside the suggestion of not doing something like this if you have only a short time to spend in a particular location, I had the time to discover places I did not know. I visited the Big Apple a couple of times before and I did what tourists do, this time it was a completely new experience as I did not have a schedule and I am not allow to indulge in shopping. Wondering around Manhattan I came across Bryant Park. This park is a little gem, the very nice and calming ambience is enriched by a table tennis area, a free to browse open library, a wi-fi hot spot, tables, chairs and live music again free of charge to enlighten and refresh the resting workers or the lucky tourists that found their way here. A very nice, and apparently highly appreciated by the locals, sandwich bar is also located in the park with prices in the average for the area.

NY Greenwich Village and Soho

A stroll across these areas during a rainy day made me discover scenic streets views and some street art. This vintage inspired mural was the backdrop for a parking lot. My mind could not stop making up stories about these two characters, how did they end up together? What their life was like? Why was she with him and was it willingly or not? And so on. So I decided to pay my respects and take some shots of it. Not that far from this location and probably inside the limits of Little Italy, yes I kept getting lost, I found a more “professional” sculpture. This art piece consisting of a young woman afloat on an inflatable ring stroked me quite as random but even more so when I found out what it really portrayed according to the artist’s view. The sculpture in fact named Survival of Serena” honoured Venice and its former name “La Serenissima.” Despite the sculpture is actually quite nice and it won prestigious prizes, I found the link quite weak and slightly insulting considering Venice’s beauty and history, but there you have it, modern art is not my favourite cup of tea.

DC and the Eurovision Song Contest

After my period in NY I moved on to visit one of my dearest friend from my time in London, SDB in Washington DC. Unexpectedly we found out that the Austrian Embassy was going to stream the Eurovision song contest live, so amused by the idea we immediately decided to go and join this event. We actually found out once there that we were part of the history of Eurovision as this was the first time ever that the contest was streamed live in USA soil. Now for who does not know what the Eurovision Song contest is, I am not going to try to explain it as you have to see it to appreciate it. However, I want to point out that this yearly appointment with the so called Eurotrash (and I do not intend this derogatively I love my Eurotrash and camp events) is usually relished best with a huge amount of alcohol and good company either at some friend’s place or, even better, in gay clubs with wide screens and a cheerful loud crowd and flashy disco lights. Now, the Embassy did actually offer a bar and a mostly European crowd, but I would not say the environment felt as relaxed and appropriate to the Eurovision experience, especially because here it was in the middle of the afternoon with a whopping tropical heat outside. Nonetheless, Eurovision worldwide broadcast services and Austrian Embassy staff thank you very much for making me part of Eurovision history and allow me to be one of the few that probably has ever watched the contest in an Embassy.

The County Fair – Virginia

A Sunday out and about from DC brought me and SDB to the DeLaPlane strawberry festival. A Washington in locked down for a non advertised bike rally delayed our escape from the city of a while but I got to see more of it so no big deal. Finally we drove up in the countryside hills of Virginia, beautiful and serene surroundings and still a tropical temperature. Now, if you have ever asked to or heard Americans speaking of county fairs and such events, you will have probably encountered the funnel cake subject. They all seems to have a craving for this delicacy. For the Finns out there the funnel cake is a slightly oversized (oh well it is the US in the end) tippaleipä, for the rest of Europe it is a sweet deep fried unleavened batter traditionally served dusted with powder sugar. For the Italians I would say it is a variant of our cenci di carnevale. The fair was not the most exciting ever, quite small and interestingly enough all the strawberry boxes were marked “produce of California” but I want to believe that they were as local as they were passed for. Nevertheless, I had a jolly good time there, observing a country style events, people strolling, eating and interacting, stands of traditional food of which my favourite was the crab-cake sandwich and an oversize, even for my hands, strawberry-lemonade. Oh and yes you are correct, the funnel cake stand sells also deep fried Oreo and twinkies…I guess a take on the healthy Scottish deep fried mars bar.

So for now this is all but stay tuned for reportage on the Drag Kick Ball match, the Memorial Day in Washington DC and many more events that are stirring in the cauldron on this side.

5 Things I have learned at the farm

Sitting in a now properly green garden, overlooking the barn on one side and the glittering lake under a glorious sunny morning after having finished the barn work I realized how much I will miss this amazing place and experience. I look back at the time I spent here as a stable/barn boy and I can picture all the exciting things I have done in my mind like little movie-clips, from driving tractors (4 of them), cut concrete bars, getting around working with cows and not being kicked once (although I banged my head around pretty much every single day in the barn), acquiring little by little more confidence and assertiveness having to take care of the horses…and the list goes on. So three days from my departure for the more on the road adventures of my RWT I think it’s time to put down a list of the 5 things I have learned being a farmer apprentice.

1)   Tractor driving is as near as it gets to a formula one experience

You would think that driving a tractor is not that much of a challenge. Well, I can assure you that driving one of this overgrown and power enhanced citroen 2CV is an art of its own. In my few attempts I have managed to get stuck in the mud, nearly tumble over on a side trying to get hay bales and brake few fences. Luckily enough AK is a very easy going person and his wise suggestion when I was sent out was: when driving a tractor never look back just go on and everything will be fine. Those fences did not get a look back.

Interestingly enough I discovered that driving a tractor is a completely difference experience  from driving a car, a tractor speeding at 22Km per hours on a dirty road will make you feel as you are driving at light speed on a rally race, try if you do not believe me.

A tip for you is to locate before you leave the farm with the tractor the switch for the 4-wheel drive. Among all the levers, buttons and whatnot in the “cockpit” you will be overwhelmed and at loss. However, is one of the most exhilarating and empowering drive ever, you will feel as the master of the road and nobody will challenge you if only because the front-loader can crush their car at a push of a button.

2)   The incredible Hulk was a calf

I experienced the birth of three calves during my stay, I took care of them, fed them and petted them trying to make them more use to human interactions. I was looking at this cute, sweet, clueless little creatures in awe till the reality behind them struck me. They are indeed little stubborn power factories; as soon as you will have to move one even of merely few centimetres you will discover that they have herculean force and psychic powers. In fact, they will be able to read in your mind that you want to move them in direction X and they will do all they can to make it impossible. However, despite this they still appear like the cutest little things in my eyes as long as I don’t need to move them around.      Calf at birth have the most beautiful and helpless blue eyes.


3)   Dr Jekyll and Mr Hide, a horse story

I love horses, let’s put it out there to start with.

Yes horses are majestic, gentle looking and very curious creatures. They exude power and elegance with a disarming sweet look in their big eyes. Yet, behind those eyes lies a psychotic mind. It took a while to get more comfortable with the horses, they are quite unpredictable and easily scared. When in “run for your life” mode they just loose the plot and walk over you without blinking twice. This Dr. Jekyll mode is switched on for the most trivial sounds. One amazing common factor is that all of them from the sweetest to the most nervous and uncollaborative one would really need to see a psychotherapist and I would not be surprised if a horse therapist would make big bucks.

A fun fact about horses I have discovered is that they do hide their poo, carefully envelop it in straw parcels inside their boxes. I think they do it to entertain the stable-boy with a morning treasure hunt.

4)   Hoovering is a farm business

I would have never thought this but in my time at the farm I found myself hoovering more then I thought. I hoovered straw, beans, hoat and whatnot down to water from the barn floor. Yes you heard me well, water; this is when the power of the hoover will make a big difference. When the winter started to fade the ground floor of the house was flooded and I found myself hoovering water from the floor trying to avoid the frogs. Yes, the frogs naturally comes with the water as I found out under the amused look of AK’s father when I came upstairs during a morning family meeting and said “erm I don’t know if it is normal but…there are frogs downstairs.”

So a hoover is as important a farming machine as a tractor. Boy if I am glad the Italian made industrial hoover was there!

On a side note I discovered that given a hoover, no matter the task or the place, I will enter in the same cleaning frenzy as when I clean my flat and well, the self fulfillment coming from it is directly proportional to the amount of stuff hoovered i.e. hundreds of kilos of beans.

5)   Behind every single glass of milk there are infinite tales and stories

From now on every time I will use milk I will take a moment to thank the people who produced it. I feel like every single drop of it is a vessel of stories and tales, about the farmer who milked it, the intern who spilled it, the family gatherings, the hours of work in the fields to produce hay, the Kms of tractor rides, the birth of calves, the marvel of sunrises and sunsets in the barn, the escaped cows waiting for you in the middle of the barn first in the morning, the sadness of a cow getting too sick, the look in the eyes of kids coming in a barn for the first time in their life and meeting a calf. The list goes on and on and I would like to take this occasion to thank all the farmers that work 24/7 and 365 days per year to produce what we perceive as a common beverage. I wish that everybody could understand how much work goes into it and what heroes are the farmers behind it. So please next time you drink milk try to listen to it and you will probably hear of one of the thousands of stories whispered by every milk bottle.

Apologetic Blogger Post

I went silent for the past few days and yes it was due partially to the amount of bureaucracy for my trip and the work that picked up at the farm, spring came and with it AK started to be a busy bee running from tractor to tractor and field to field, but mainly because a nasty little bug bitten my computer.

Yes I got a virus, one of those nasty little things. I had to deal with it and it took longer than the expected, once upon a time if you were writing with a typewriter you would have possibly run out of ink but you just needed to go down to the shop and get a new roll, nowadays a virus can stop you from doing things for longer time.

Now I am equipped with an antivirus and I strongly suggest everybody to get one, yes also you MAC users, do not make the mistake I made to think “MAC do not get viruses” because these are not the old times and also the apple decorated machine do get sick.

With the threat dealt with I will resume posting asap.

Greetings and apologies,



At the farm: a good start and a reality check

Sometimes life in the countryside is not as happy as when a newborn calf is there waiting for you in the box with its mommy.

Last Sunday was a great day, I went along to bring bales to a customer and on the way back I was in the back of the open trailer. It was great, looking around at all the countryside still snowy but on a sunny and warm day. I counted 11 butterflies of at least 4 different species, the first bumblebee of the season literally bumped into me, a gentle breeze on my face and the land and woodlands with the wet crisp smell of Spring flowing around me. I felt, and I am sure I did look like a toddler happy for something.

ImageThen I got the chance to ride a horse. A very good friend and rider was around and she volunteered to supervise me so SK allowed me to ride Lurtti. Lurtti is the sweetest and calmest of the horses I have ever met. It is also heavily pregnant, a thing that make it even less dangerous. Lurtti was not very happy we decided to take her for a spin, but it complied and did everything I was asking her despite I am confident in saying I had no clues of what to do precisely. It reminded me of how good I was when I went to a month of Argentinian tango lessons, and well you don’t know me personally but I can assure you it wasn’t strictly come dancing if you get what I mean.

ImageIn addition, the evening was so nice that I had the chance to go and get some photos by the lake before going for the traditional pike dinner as AK’s father fished a 3.5kg one for the first time this year.

The countryside can be heaven on hearth but as I was saying in the start is not always roses, spectacular sunrises and magnificent sunsets. Today it was raining here in Orimattila, pretty much the all day. Few hours ago when I went to get the horses for the overnight stay at the bed and breakfast, the intern looked at me and while I was telling her to take Kake while I was taking Luikku in she said: “yes I will take him, he is going tomorrow“. A heavy sadness came upon me. You cannot know this but what she meant is that Kake will be put down tomorrow. I knew it had a bad foot for some days and that SK was pondering on when to send him away so it should not have got me by surprise but it did.

I know Kake is not a human being and being a farm animal is even more subject to the hard law of usefulness so to say, yet it hurts a little.Image I will write soon about the reality of leaving and working in a farm as my time here is coming to an end, but for now I just wanted to mention Kake and do it with his full real name Kraftkeiser, a great horse, a good animal and despite not being the easiest of the horses I care for, a very good and lovely friend. Apples, carrots and stale bread are on their way as special dessert for my favourite of the horses.


as elegant as usual also when muddy as some SPA customers

Spring clearly reached Finland

Today it is the second day of a brown and green landscape more than white and glittery. It goes so fast, one day you look around and think that spring is not on sight and the next one <boom> winter is gone and the ground is dark, muddy and you can only distantly remember the white coat that was there till few hours before.

I did not have a lot of time in the last few days to go out and take pictures due to the farm work, weather (yes it was quite greyish and raining) Imageand dinners with friends. So I will leave you with some photos that I believe briefly hint to the end of winter here in the Finnish countryside.

I cannot convey to you the increase number of birds singing, the ducks arrived at first around ten days ago, the wild swans couple that I hope I will be able to take a picture of before I leave, the cranes and all the plethora of little and coloured ones that are swooping around and greet the day that are getting longer and longer. ImageHowever, here is a spot in front of the house that I shoot a couple of days ago in the night and where yesterday I caught the cat in action catching its prey, a mouse, just under the same tree. You can see for yourself the difference.

I have to stop here as I have to go to the barn, I am actually late already, so greetings for now and happy spring to everybody.

Enjoy your achievements

It is nervous breaking to wait for news from my bank in Italy that is supposed to sort out my trivial, yet major, problem with the credit card limit. I keep looking at the positive sides and think that it is just a small bump and I should not stress about it as bumps will come and I should embrace them with calm and serenity. Unfortunately I have been known among some of my friends as the worrier more than the warrior so shaking the old cape for the new placid and smoothly following the current one is a bit of a challenge.

I am committed to this and I am doing it, I am still struggling to find my style and my edge in reporting on my experiences to you. I embarked in this blog of chronicles as a personal project, but I also hope that it will help me in reach and inspire people to let go and follow their dreams in their ways and schedule for small that they can be. There is no dream small enough to be call that, every dream is a world of its own and should be looked after and visited as much as possible.


My mind is full of ideas and projects I would love to take forward, a vortex of not properly planned things and seeds of which I get glimpses while they peek out from the eye of the cyclone. It is still quite hard to concentrate on one of them, to explore it more properly, to select and weed out the ones that are just too difficult to achieve or not relevant. I guess I should give myself some time and figure out my pace and stronger interests while I am on my path. And I hope you will be patient and supportive with me.

In the last period lots of interesting things have happened to me, challenging myself as a stock photographer in Cape Town under the scrutiny of the world most selling stock photography company, interviewing fashion designers in both Finland and South Africa, working as event photographer at burlesque shows, working in the farm from where I am still writing all this, having a big NY burlesque site asking me to run a photo gallery and article about the Helsinki burlesque festival (HBF), and others to count. Interestingly enough are all things that a few months back I would have never thought would have happened. It is easy to forget how much I achieved and done in the past few months, I do one thing  and archive it switching immediately to the next problem not cherishing the results obtained. The “problem solved, focus on next one” mind frame coming from my PhD upbringing need to be re-trained to learn how to take pleasure and enjoy the fulfilment of completion.

Did you ever feel the same? Try to think about it, when was last time you took the time to look back and took the pleasure in a task you completed?

So I am leaving you with a mission if I may, take few minutes and focus on the last small or not so small achievement you overtook, dust it from the shelf of “done that forget about it” and embrace the pleasing sense of accomplishment. I am sure it will give you an energy boost. I have just finished painting two massive doors for the new horse riding hall and despite my lungs are obliterated with the fumes of the paint I feel pleased with myself.

If you do take the time to do it let me know how it went, sharing your achievements is even better.

Stuck in the mud

When I wrote about the 5 reasons that kept me from committing to the final step of phase 2 of my Round the World Trip (RWT) I shook off my inertia. So in the past few days I have been planning, unplanning and replanning to get going. I finally came up with something and booked my flights. I was quite surprise with the result.

I decided for flying to Milan from Helsinki to take care of a couple of things there. Then from Rome to NY on the 20th of May and from LA to Osaka on the 19th of August. I used an internet site that a fellow Bootcamper suggested me in Cape Town, Cheapoair. It has a great advantage, it allows multicities option and that means that it is not required to have a round-trip that go back to the starting point. I checked everything, I went through the booking and without even realizing this, I came to the confirmation page. I started shaking having suddenly realized that I actually got through it and I was in.

The euphoria and nervousness came to an end 10 minutes later when I received a sms from my credit-card company that notified me of a “transaction rejection”.I was in the barn and I cursed profusely in front of the cows. No I am not proud of it. It came to my mind that this is probably the third out of five times that I have used this credit-card and I did not get a positive result. It is a good thing in the end, I am probably back at square one with the booking but at least I know that probably I should get a new credit-card before I hit the world.

Now you will think that the title is a reference to this matter but actually on a quirky side, it doesn’t refer to it fully. I actually meant to write about the fact that today I got asked to drive up the hill and bring a bale back to the barn. I drove the tractor once before since I arrived at the farm and I managed that fine, so I said yes and hopped on. Unfortunately little I knew that in a few minutes I would have found myself stuck in the mud with no mobile on me. Luckily enough the neighbouring house owner lent me a spade and I got the tractor out from the mud, twice! Yes, because I am quite stubborn I tried again to get the bale out from a different angle.

In the end after nearly 45 minutes I got back to the barn bale-less and feeling quite defeated. AK laughed at my poor face and explained me that he forgot to mention that in case of troubles there was an extra lever to activate the 4wheels drive. I have no idea if any of you have ever saw the inside of one of these new tractors, there are more levers and buttons than in an arcade room, obviously it did not even cross my mind to look at them. Oh well, everything went well in the end, I managed to come back and AK told me, once back, that it was quite a difficult drive for an inexperienced tractor-driver.